Theatre Review: My Brother's Keeper Is A Play That Wins The Will To Live

My Brother's Keeper, Playground Theatre ★★★★☆

Theatre Review: My Brother's Keeper Is A Play That Wins The Will To Live My Brother's Keeper, Playground Theatre 4
Photo: Bertie Beor Roberts

Sometimes you sit through a tedious play thinking 'I'm losing the will to live'. However, in My Brother's Keeper there's a refreshing converse: a well-written play about the will to live.

In what we're sure will be an award-winning performance, Andy de la Tour as Mr Stone — a former Shakespearean actor and stroke victim — lies halfway between torpor and irascibility in an NHS overspill ward designed with hideous authenticity by Maddie Whiffin. Kathryn Pogson's patiently dull wife is eclipsed by the rival attentions of Stone's two sons — a splendidly caustic and fluent Josh Taylor who shares a love of words with his father, and a more conventional buttoned-up business type played by David Partridge.

It almost doesn't matter that there's little plot development, because the characters are so realistic, and so well acted you're almost tempted to join in their conversations. Even if their philosophising is a bit glib — just what is a 'coffee table Marxist'? — novelist Nigel Williams, author of the tremendous The Wimbledon Poisoner, writes perfectly for the stage.

Although first performed in 1985, the dialogue is entirely fresh, and the sideswipes at the health service, and at families who are unable to speak to each other, are completely modern. But the discussion about whether dad should have 'the will to live' engages you throughout and will keep you talking in the bar afterwards.

My Brother's Keeper, Playground Theatre, Latimer Road, W10 6RQ. £18.50-£22.50. Until 23 March

Last Updated 06 March 2019